Animals Biodiversity Ecology 

Megabiota, Largest Life, Vital to Biosphere

By Mackenzie Myers @kenzwrites Large organisms such as whales, elephants, and redwoods are often featured in awe-inspiring nature documentaries, but they’re more than just oohs and ahs. Their existence or extinction could make or break the planet as we know it.  Megabiota—the largest plants and animals—are more likely than smaller organisms to go extinct as a result of climate change. And the rest of us could be in big trouble if they do, according to a recent study.  The charisma conundrum Think of successful conservation campaigns. Which animals are deemed…

Read More
organic strawberries Botany Ecology Health 

Wounding Leaves Produces Sweeter Organic Strawberries

By Radhika Desikan Do you like your fruit to be organically grown or conventionally grown? This has been a choice available to consumers since the first half of the 20th century in response to raised awareness about agriculture’s dependence on synthetic chemicals. With increasing scientific discoveries of novel chemicals that protect and help plants grow, there was also increased knowledge about the possible dangers of having these chemicals in food crops. This resulted in farmers growing crops without the use of agrochemicals, leading to the movement of organic farming. There…

Read More
View towards Khumbu and Cholatse from below Ama Dablam at about 4,900 m showing typical subnival vegetation in the foreground. Photo credit: Karen Anderson Climate Change Ecology 

Plants Climb Himalayas as Snow Line Recedes

By Emily Rhode Humans aren’t the only ones climbing the highest peaks in the world these days. Thanks to warming temperatures, some areas around Mt. Everest that are normally covered in snow are getting greener. To a plant, that’s great news. But for the 1.4 billion people who live at the base of the Himalayas and depend on snowmelt for fresh water, the steady march of the stubby vegetation that inhabits the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region could be an indication of a crisis in the making. High-altitude data mining…

Read More
Bush Fires across Woy Woy Bay in New South Wales, Australia, Photo by Martin Snicer (CC BY-ND 2.0) Climate Change Ecology Environment 

Australian Bushfires vs Amazon Rain Forest Fires

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Year 2019 faced many climatic emergencies and devastating scenarios. The Amazon rainforest in Brazil was consumed by a number of fires that burned around 17.5 million acres of land, and Australia was ravaged by massive bushfires that have spread uncontrollably into 2020. There are many questions about the differences between these two events. From a large distance, they might look alike, but they actually present a lot of dissimilarities, making any comparison unfair. The evident and shocking number of deaths in Australia—both human and animal—already shows…

Read More
Intense Lawn Mowing Lowers Biodiversity, Favors Pests Biodiversity Ecology 

Intense Lawn Mowing Lowers Biodiversity, Favors Pests

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore  Looks can be deceiving: a uniformly well-mowed lawn might look good, but ecologically, it is not desirable. According to a recent study that analyzed the results of many studies on lawn mowing, more intensely mowed lawns showed lower plant and insect diversity and a greater abundance of pests.  According to the researchers, adopting low-intensity lawn management would bring about a host of environmental benefits including cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, lowering the prevalence of pests, increasing pollinators and plant diversity, and saving costs.  Less is…

Read More
Animal Adaptations: Science with Sophie Animals Biodiversity Ecology Education Science and Art Science Videos 

Urban Animal Adaptations, the Musical

Adaptations! How do animals adapt to live in human cities? Which animal sings the best? Watch them audition for survival and try an experiment with ping pong balls and tongs! This video is brought to you by our very good friend Sophia Shrand, creator and star of the educational science comedy series Science with Sophie. In this episode, we learn how different animal adaptations help them survive and thrive in city environments. We also learn how many different animals Sophie can portray (a lot). Finally, the experiment is fun for…

Read More
Climate Change Ecology Geology 

Fossil pollen holds clues to past

By Mackenzie Myers What if, instead of ancient treasure and tombs, Indiana Jones researched ancient pollen and soil?  Beyond just a seasonal nuisance or a crucial component of agriculture, pollen can be a key to understanding the past. It clues researchers in to how land was used thousands of years ago, as well as what the climate conditions were like at that time. And according to a new study from North Carolina State University, this tool may be available in more areas than previously thought.  Painting the past with fossil…

Read More
cultural heritage and citizen science Citizen Science Ecology SciStarter Blog 

Cultural Heritage and Citizen Science

Citizen science for your ears The latest episode of Citizen Science, the podcast from SciStarter, is the first of two episodes about how regular people help cultural heritage institutions like archives, libraries, and museums do scientific research, like uploading photographs to iNaturalist or eBird, or volunteering with a local water organization to monitor stream and river quality. Co-host Justin Schell shares how natural history museums and libraries encourage everyday people to take part in local, national, and global science projects.  The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County In the…

Read More
Photo 5726794, (c) Sean Blaney, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). This observation on iNaturalist is of a species tracked by the Northeast Alpine Flower Watch project. Biodiversity Citizen Science Ecology SciStarter Blog 

Explore Biodiversity with iNaturalist

Do you want to know more about the world around you? You can get outside and explore biodiversity and the natural environment with iNaturalist!  iNaturalist allows anyone, anywhere to contribute to a global record of biodiversity by uploading pictures of plants and animals with their smartphone or computer. In a new podcast episode (listen below!), co-host Justin Schell talks with Dr. Carrie Seltzer, the Stakeholder Engagement Strategist for iNaturalist, and with representatives and a volunteer from the Appalachian Mountain club. Tip: add your iNaturalist username to your SciStarter dashboard, and…

Read More